Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
by Eliza Redgold
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.
We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.
Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.
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Riddle Me a Riddle
This blog post comes to us from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press on July 14 2015.
“My lady! The Mercians say they are greater tellers of riddles than the people of the Middle Lands!”
“Is that right, Walburgha?” I chuckled.
“What a thing to say!” Her hands on her hips, Walburgha puffed out her red cheeks. “My Wilbert is the greatest riddler there is.”
To my surprise Lord Leofric leaned towards her with a glimmer of a grin. “Perhaps there should be a challenge from the riddlers of Coventry to the riddlers of Mercia.”
“That’s it!” Walburgha cried. “A riddling challenge! Will you allow it, my lady?”
From Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva
Do you like riddles? I think Lady Godiva did.
Part of the pleasure in researching the eleventh century, when Lady Godiva lived, was discovering just how much fun the Anglo-Saxons were. In their halls mirth and merriment often reigned. There was the mead-bench, to enjoy a drop or more of honey-wine and after a hearty meal there would be singing and dancing, as well as verse-telling, mimes and riddles. All these would be led by the gleeman, an early kind of minstrel. No wonder the word glee came to mean fun.
Anglo-Saxon riddles came in many forms. Some were witty, some were bawdy. The teller would add their own improvised phrases and gestures. They were often metaphorical, which is a key to their solution. Some riddles transitioned into nursery and playground rhymes, becoming part of folklore. Fortunately, others were written down and old books of riddles are still in existence today.
In NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva I included two authentic Anglo-Saxon riddles, numbers 25 and 54 from the ancient Exeter Book of Riddles. They’re still hilarious after a millennium. The translations from Old English were kindly provided by two British academics, Dr Megan Cavell and Dr Matthias Ammon. They run the ‘Riddle Ages’ website at http://theriddleages.wordpress.com/. It’s well worth a visit. You’ll have a chuckle.
Ready for a riddle? Here’s one that features in Naked:
I am a wondrous creature, a joy to women,
a help to neighbours; I harm none
of the city-dwellers, except for my killer.
My base is steep and high, I stand in a bed,
shaggy somewhere beneath. Sometimes ventures
the very beautiful daughter of a churl,
a maid proud in mind, so that she grabs hold of me,
rubs me to redness, ravages my head,
forces me into a fastness. Immediately she feels
my meeting, the one who confines me,
the curly-locked woman. Wet will be that eye.
Can you guess? The answer is at the bottom of the blog post!
For more information visit Eliza Redgold’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.
PRAISE“Redgold’s variation on this enticing legend is often lyrical and offers a satisfying blend of history, lore, and romance.” (Booklist)
“Breathes new life into the story of the woman who would stop at nothing to protect her land and people.” (Romantic Times)
“A wonderful, romantic retelling of the Lady Godiva legend. There is the colorful Anglo-Saxon backdrop, warriors, battles, peacemaking, desire, revenge and love – everything a fan of medieval romance could desire – plus a strong-willed heroin. Written with a lyrical lilt to her prose, Redgold adds realism to the myth and love to the lusty tale, allowing readers a glimpse into what might have been.” (RT Book Reviews)
Riddle answer: An onion.